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Note to Editors: In the public interest and in accordance with FAA regulations, the USGS is announcing this airborne project. Your assistance in informing the local communities is appreciated. 

Starting around June 13 and lasting up to a week based on weather conditions, a helicopter will make flights over portions of the Colorado River near Granby, Colo., from Windy Gap Reservoir downstream to Hot Sulphur Springs.  

Helicopter flights will measure water speed using camera-based instruments as part of U.S. Geological Survey projects to improve methods for remote sensing of streamflow. The resulting data will benefit a broad user community by providing information on water supply, flood hazards, habitat suitability and current conditions for various recreational interests. 

Along the Colorado River corridor, USGS scientists will collect data from selected reaches of the river between Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs, as part of a larger USGS study of the Colorado River Basin.   

Helicopter collecting new technology and methods for water data
Helicopter flights will test new technology and methods to collect water-velocity (speed) data from camera images. (Credit: USGS) 

The helicopter will fly along pre-planned flight paths at an altitude of about 2,000 feet above the ground surface. High-tech cameras will collect images that can be used to produce detailed maps of water velocity.  

The USGS is contracting with HeloAir to conduct the survey. The helicopter will be operated by experienced pilots from HeloAir who are specially trained for these types of surveys. The company works with the FAA to ensure flights are safe and in accordance with U.S. law. 

Map showing helicopter survey area and near Granby, Colo.
Map showing helicopter survey area and near Granby, Colo. Surveys will not occur directly above populated areas. Black circle indicates study area.

More information on the USGS study in the Colorado River Basin can be found at: 

Next Generation Water Observing System: Upper Colorado River Basin